Of the many items divorced couples need to figure out — such as who gets the house, who keeps the expensive wedding gifts, calculating child support, and more — perhaps the most important decisions revolve around the kids depending on their ages, they may or may not understand what’s going on, and, regardless, it will be a difficult transition for them as well.
While your marriage may be ending, you will still be a parent during and after divorce. For some parents, calculating child support will be part of the process, but it may be difficult to figure out exactly what that means. Although each state has standard guidelines that dictate the amount of child support, courts can deviate from those standards depending on each case.
When calculating child support, put your children first.
Some couples can go through divorce as friends. Some can’t stand the sight of their former partner. However, when kids are involved, divorce is about more than just marriage; it is essential for both parents to put their problems aside and continue putting their kids first. There are several ways parents can do this.
The first way is to not fight in front of the kids. This may mean minimizing the time that you and your former spouse spend together. You can make arrangements before meeting so that you don’t need to discuss important matters in front of the kids. Then, you can just drop off the kids at your ex’s place, if that’s part of the arrangement.
Secondly, your child is very likely to be emotionally volatile during a divorce. They may be unsure of how to deal with the situation, including how to talk about it with you and how to process their emotions. According to Wake Forest University, counseling through the process of divorce can help kids deal with their emotions in a mature and healthy way.
Helping children understand – and cope – with their situation is an important goal. For the family and marriage counselor, this means being an advocate for children as well as a coach for the parents during a divorce. Spending time listening to the child or children whose parents are divorcing can enable the counselor to help provide a voice, ensuring their needs are being considered and their feelings understood by parents.
A counselor can also help your child continue to do well in school through the divorce. Of course, the divorce may cause a disruption of their schedule and other distractions that may impact your child’s ability to maintain their grades. Make sure to encourage them to succeed, but not to put too much pressure on them. At the end of the day, each child is different and will react so. Making sure they know you love them and caring for them as best as you can will ensure they transition through the divorce as smoothly as possible.
Calculating Child Support
Though each state has a standard calculation used to decide on the amount of child support, variables may affect how your child support is decided by the court. Determining the paying parent can depend on who files for divorce, the amount of custody each parent gets, and the annual income of each parent.
Child support is designed to even out the payments to make it fair for both parents, but this is no easy calculation. According to legal experts on divorce, “Many people believe that divorce is about splitting everything down the middle. However, this is hardly ever the case, as that is almost impossible to do in most situations. With children, homes, joint debts, and complicated financial accounts, many divorces are significantly more complicated than just dividing everything equally.”
When calculating child support, you start by figuring out your spouse’s annual net income. Then, you can use a child support calculator to get an idea of the amount by inputting the number of children, the annual earnings of each parent, and the percentage of time the non-custodial parent spends with the kids.
Of course, these calculators may give you an idea but are not necessarily the precise number you will have to give. Child support calculators generally assume that one parent has primary custody. They don’t always consider other variables and adjustments — such as the cost of health insurance for each child — that will impact the court’s decision.
Typically, the paying parent will need to continue providing child support until the children turn 18, there is consent, or a court order allows them to cease. However, other factors may require that payments continue beyond 18 years. For example, if the child has not graduated high school by 18, the payments may continue until they turn 19. Also, if the child is mentally or physically disabled, child support payments may continue past the age of 18.
There are many emotions that accompany a divorce — not only for the former couple but also for the children involved. Calculating child support is a way you can ensure that your kids will continue to be cared for and their needs are met.